Love love love

I just wanted to write a post listing some things that Audrey does that I don’t want to forget… Perhaps I won’t forget, I’ll probably bore her with tales of her Hoover cuddles for years, but just in case…

I love…

Audrey’s eyes. The beautiful shape, the way they smile when she smiles, her eyelashes (that she inherited from me!).

The way she taps my should with her hand when I’m carrying her.

The way she reaches up with both arms to be picked up.

The way she dances… It’s a sight to behold! Rocking, head banging, hand wiggling… She is going to classes as soon as she can stand!

Kissing her forehead and soft hair.

When I ask her for a kiss and she cups my face with both her hands, so she can give me a full-on slobbery number.

Her sneezes. So tiny.

The way she picks up blueberries and eats them whilst maintaining eye contact with me the whole time.

The way she signs “finished” with a couple of turning fists.

Peekaboo with her own hands – it will never fail to make me proud that she figured out how to do that.

The way she claps, smiles and makes a positive “uhh” noise when she’s proud of herself (usually when we’ve praised her for drinking her water!).

The way her nose changes shape with a certain cheeky smile.

The way she giggles when she sees us putting on the sling/getting our coats on (because she knows she’s going out).

Her feet wriggling with excitement when food is coming.

The cuteness of her bottom lip before she cries.

Hoover cuddles! (Audrey is a little scared of the vacuum cleaner and clings to you like her life depends on it whilst it’s noisily on).

How she smiles and dances when I sing for her – even for the silliest made up songs.

The way she brushes her own hair, then holds the brush out to brush mine!

And many more… But that will do for now! X

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Mummy forum rant

Mummy forums. Personally, I find them horrifying. Like the Daily Mail online comments section, but scarier.

When you throw a question out to a bunch of sleep-deprived/shell-shocked/in-need-of-adult-conversation hormonal ladies, what sort of responses do you expect to get? And yes, I do think that us mummies can provide each other with helpful advice and support, but I also think we can confuse one another with conflicting advice and viewpoints. I guess this is why I would choose to look at medical professional sites for health advice, ‘proper’ parenting websites for weaning/naps/milk etc advice and personal mummy blogs for inspiration/comfort. I would never ask a bunch of mummies in a chat room about whether or not I can give Audrey x amount of calpol or if it was weird that she was doing so-and-so.

And NEVER go there to discuss immunisations. Yikes.

The problem is, I am a member of more than one mummy group on Facebook and various things clutter my feed… Ted says; “Just leave the group or hide the posts” and of course he’s right, I should do that… But I can’t help keeping them so I can judge/get annoyed/laugh/and sometimes (rarely) get some useful advice.

I spend a lot of time saying “Don’t these women have friends?!” Or “Haven’t they heard of Google?!?” But I guess the truth is, no, some of them don’t have friends they can ask and yes, they probably could Google it, but then they wouldn’t have an interaction with other mummies and maybe they desperately need that.

I’ve been hugely lucky in that I have several friends from school who paved the way and had kids a few years ahead of me. So we got loads of clothes, a cot and things we’d never even heard of (bumbo!). Then we did NCT and met a great group of people and shared an amazing experience together. Plus Tallulah from NCT did all the reading so I didn’t have to! Then I had some semi-blind dates with friends of friends with babies. Then there’s the local T21 group, who organise pre-school meet-ups so Audrey can meet other babies with DS close to her age (or more importantly, I can meet their mummies). There were plenty of people to sit and drink coffee with (decaf whilst breastfeeding of course!) and dissect the nap routine and symptoms of this and that and developmental stuff…

But what if you didn’t have that? I can’t begrudge these women their only outlet for baby queries and support, can I? Even if they don’t know the difference between “mummy’s” and “mummies”? Even if they ask questions that could easily be answered by a quick Google or a glance at an instruction manual? Even if they start a discussion about grooming pubic hair??

I give in. If it riles me too much, I’ll block… But for now just listen out for me muttering, “F*¥#ing Google it!”.

The power of love

From the age of 4 to 16, I lived next door to a family who had a son with Down’s Syndrome. I would say the overall feeling I remember when coming into contact with him (his name was Wayne), was: fear. To me, he was a giant man-baby, who had large, rough, dry, twisted hands that he would want you to touch. I did not want to spend time with Wayne. His mother, Betty, was (still is) a friendly lady with a cheerful voice and she was devoted to her family. She had two sons, (the younger was married with children), but Wayne remained at home, as intellectually he was possibly at the stage of a 2 or 3 year old and he was still in nappies (he was in his 20s/30s).

Sometimes my mum would send me next door to pay Betty some ‘catalogue money’ (she ordered things for us through her catalogues, god this was the 80s/90s, but sounds like the dark ages!). I distinctly remember that Wayne was more often than not, sat with large headphones on, listening to “his music”. As I grew older, I felt sadness for Betty. Her husband died at some point during our time there and so she was alone caring for Wayne.

My mum is a one for repeating stories, so I’ve heard 100s of times how when Wayne was born, the doctors left him on the side and told Betty he was like jelly, that he wasn’t worth her bothering with… she should call an institution to take him away… and how she held him and told them they were wrong, he was her baby and she was keeping him. She loved him instantly and unconditionally. I always thought it was amazing that she dealt with this ‘burden’ so well. I recall she had someone come for respite care – so she could go to bingo or just have time to herself and it just seemed like such a rough deal. Rough that as an old woman (old to me), she still had a ‘child’ to look after.

I also heard stories of how she had taken him out of a bad nursery because they had just dumped him in a corner and not worked on his development at all. Of how she had been advised to have a second child quickly so that Wayne would have a sibling to learn from. And how he had exceeded expectations on many fronts – because doctors had said he would never walk and also that he would die at a very young age. Wayne actually died a few years ago and he was in his 50s. I suppose it wasn’t that long after that Audrey was born. Betty was keen to meet her and I was really keen for her to, too. It’s funny how you become part of this club. Someone new joins the club and you’re so excited to welcome them, but you know from their perspective it’s not a club they wanted to join… But it won’t be long before they’ll be the ones excited to welcome a new member.

When Betty did meet Audrey, she kept saying how she was ‘high functioning’ and definitely more advanced than Wayne at that age etc. It was very sweet of her and of course I’m pleased to hear it, but I realise how it doesn’t matter. Of course I don’t want Audrey to be in nappies in her 50s and I want her to be able to hold a grown up conversation – in fact I have very high expectations for her… but…. I also know that no matter what, we will love her and be happy having her around. She is amazing and a joy to us. Just as Wayne was to Betty. I know she was happy to have had him. Her life was not the burdened one I imagined from the outside.

So the next time you see a mother or father dealing with their child with special needs, don’t feel sorry for them. Don’t think they are burdened. Just remember, there is love there and love is a very powerful thing. Huey Lewis knew it. I know it. Now you do too.